Thursday, August 18, 2011

Who Needs Friends Like This?

I know what you’re thinking. Laura’s gonna dish some dirt on someone. Nope. But the answer lies in what I’m about to share.
Meanwhile, I have another question. What do an alpaca farmer and an author have in common?
Periodically, I step back and assess the people who’ve come in and out of my life. Some exited and then returned many years later. I’ve found their friendship even more enriching the second time around. One such person is Beth.
I received a heart-breaking email from Beth a couple of years ago. We’d not communicated since high school in Florida. Twenty-five years later, she popped into my inbox. To my surprise, I discovered she lives two hours from me, and her brother lives five minutes down the road from me. Small world, huh? She persuaded me to join Facebook, and we scheduled a lunch date to catch up.
Just as I was walking out the door that morning, the phone rang. More bad news. Then Beth said something like, “You don’t want to have lunch with me. I’ll cry the whole time.” I said something like, “I can handle tears.”
So we had lunch at Sonny’s Barbecue in Commerce, GA, the halfway point between our homes. We ate, I listened, and surprisingly, Beth did not cry. We had a good time. The twenty-five years between us melted away. And the diversion was good for her.
We discovered common ground with our sons. My son was farther down the path in life, having conquered most of his early developmental problems. Her autistic son wasn’t faring as well, and Beth was going through a divorce.
A teacher-turned-flight attendant, Beth was in a transition phase of her life. She eventually returned to teaching. Describing her as a special needs teacher doesn’t do her justice. She handles some of the toughest kids in her school. Kids who, due to their special needs, have crumpled other teachers. Beth returns to the classroom in a few days for her second year with her “spirited” students, as she likes to call them.
God brings people in and out of our life. I like to think they are exactly the people we need at the exact time they appear. Beth returned to my life a couple of years after I lost my older sister Michelle. Beth had been good friends with Michelle in high school. Outside of my family, Beth is one of the few people I can chat with about Michelle and know she’s listening with her heart. Beth has also generously shared mementos of her relationship with Michelle from high school.
Encouragement at its best is a two-way street. While many people tell me I encourage them, Beth has enriched my life with her wit, her example, and generosity. None of this surprised me. What did surprise me was learning this upscale lady runs an alpaca farm.
So to answer the question—What do an author and alpaca farmer have in common?

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